SEATTLE- Just because you have allergies, doesn't mean you have to be miserable all the time in the spring and summer. There are things you can do to stem some of your suffering. First and foremost, you should know if you have an allergy. If your sniffle or sneeze just wont go away, consider seeing an allergist. Knowing what you're allergic to is the first step in helping you beat the season.
Are you allergic to trees? Weeds? Grasses? Dust? Mold? All have different seasons and times when they will be worse than others. Right now, air samples around Puget Sound have been showing moderate to high levels of tree pollen. Trees are first in a succession of blooming plants. Up next in queue, we'll see the plants in the grass family start spewing out pollen. It will peak around Memorial Day. Weeds start up in April and really don't stop around here until September.
Getting window savvy is my number one tip for the allergy sufferer. Fresh air is great this time of year-- but know when to have those windows open and when to keep them shut. If you suffer from dust and mold allergies: keep the open, pretty much as much as possible. If you have pollen allergies, close them up. This is especially important in the morning hours. The cold air sinks overnight and that can concentrate pollen levels near the ground in the morning hours. When the sun comes up, the atmosphere starts to mix things around more.
It's important you don't become a pollen carrier. That means taking off your shoes before you get inside. If you've been outside for a long period of time, ditch those clothes immediately. A shower and hair rinse will help too before you put on a fresh pollen-free outfit. Consider nasal saline rinses. Yes, a neti pot can be kind of gross and certainly takes getting used to-- but a few minutes of pouring salty water through your sinus can mean hours of feeling so much better.
Another solution is changing out your furnace or air conditioning filter more frequently this time of year. There are special ones that claim to filter out even more particulate matter like pollen and dust. And since those yard chores don't get done by themselves, if you have to be outside for outdoor chores wear a mask. Not just any mask, though. Find the kind that are rated N 95. This means it is rated to filter our 95% of the particles in the air. They are more expensive (ranging in price from 15 to 45 dollars per mask) but allergy experts say they get the job done.